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'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for November 3rd, 2010




by Paul W. Thompson

Overheard last weekend under the showtune

video screens at Sidetrack and the Call:

This is an exciting week in Chicago theater, as on Monday we here at BroadwayWorld announced nominations for the Chicago Theatre Fans' Choice Awards! The 121 nominees in the 25 categories represent 57 different Theater Productions in the Chicago area which opened between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2010. These productions were mounted by 33 separate theaters or companies.

Those who dwell in the Mosh Pit will be interested to know that local productions of the musicals "Ragtime," "Chess," "Aida," "Man Of La Mancha," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Into The Woods" are prominent among the nominations. And the five productions on this list which played the Cadillac Palace Theatre last year made it the most popular theater on the list, though "Billy Elliot" at the Ford Center For The Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, is the touring production with the most mentions on the list. 

The awards are designed to recognize excellence, as voted by the fans of Chicagoland theater, and encompass all of the various forms and sizes of theater here, from tours to resident productions, large to small, Equity to Non-Equity, play, musical and revue. Suggestions for nominations were solicited from fans between September 24th and October 15th, and the winners will be announced online in December. Voting is going on now through December 20, so there's plenty of time for everybody to spread the word to people who might want to cast their votes. So check out the list of nominees, and vote for your favorites. Call your friends! And congratulations to all the nominated theaters, productions and individuals. 

Click Here for the announcement of the nominees 

Click Here to vote! 

The year of Stephen Sondheim isn't quite over yet, even though his 80th birthday was in March and there are no longer two Sondheim musicals playing at Stage 773 (produced by different companies, by the way). But the Chicago Humanities Festival is sponsoring a one-night concert performance of "Follies," next Tuesday night at the Francis W. Parker School in Lincoln Park. Power couple Rob Lindley (a newly minted Jeff Award winner for his performance in "Oh Coward!" at Writers' Theatre) and his partner Doug Peck (a previous Jeff winner and the musical director for Mary Zimmerman's "Candide," that just wrapped up its run at the Goodman Theatre) are the co-presenters of this event. A whole host of prominent Chicago actors will perform, next Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm. You will want to scare up a ticket for this, if at all possible! 

Follies at the Chicago Humanities Festival 

And Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts will be presenting "Sweeney Todd" later in the month (November 18-21) in the O'Malley Theater, on the 7th floor of the Auditorium Theatre building at Congress and Wabash Avenues. Recent Roosevelt graduates and not a few of its current students grace our local musical theater stages, so this might be a chance to catch a rising star or two. 

Roosevelt CCPA 

Bailiwick Chicago is opening "Departure Lounge" this coming Sunday, after previewing it last weekend. It's the Chicago premiere and, I believe, U.S. premiere (as a fully-staged work) of this product of the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. It's being mounted here at the Royal George Cabaret Theater, and the pictures I've seen look a lot of fun! There are commercial producers involved with Bailiwick in this production, and writer (book, music and lyrics) Dougal Irvine will be on hand at the theater at certain performances this week, to get feedback on the show directly from audience members. The show, about four 18-year-olds on their way to life, is directed by Tom Mullen, with musical direction by Bailiwick Artistic Director Kevin Mayes. It runs through December 12th. 

Bailiwick Chicago - Home 

Two productions which received great reviews last season are being remounted. Chicago's Signal Ensemble Theatre is giving us "Aftermath" again, from November 6-December 12. It's the story of the creation of the Rolling Stones, centering on the short life of the band's founder and original leader, Brian Jones. The attractive young cast is hard at work once again, learning all things Stones, and the theatre is hoping that prospective audience members remember that they couldn't get tickets to see this last season. Ronan Marra wrote it, and directs it. 

Signal Ensemble Theatre 

And Chicago Children's Theatre is giving another go at "The Hundred Dresses," which played successfully at the Royal George Theatre last fall but is now at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts, today through December 2. Rumor has it that the show, based on a beloved young adult novel and with songs by recording artists Ralph Covert ("Ralph's World") attracted attention from a lot of companies and presenters in other cities, but the original physical production was difficult to tour or recreate. Maybe this show will have a successful afterlife--how exciting! Sean Graney directs. And you can bring a dress to the lobby, to donate to the Party Dress Project

The Hundred Dresses 

Also at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts, beginning November 11 and continuing through December 19, is Northlight Theatre's production of "A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration." Written by Paula Vogel, directed by Henry Godinez and including period songs, as it concentrates on the Lincoln family in the White House, this show may be on its way to becoming a seasonal theatrical staple in the very near term. 

Civil War Christmas - Northlight Theatre 

Also in the north suburbs, the Marriott Theatre is previewing "The Music Man" right now, opening November 14 and running all the way through January 9, 2011. Chicago and Broadway's Gary Griffin directs Bernie Yvon and Johanna Mckenzie Miller in the Meredith Willson feel-good staple, choregraphed by the up and coming Matt Raftery. Key roles are played by favorites Cory Goodrich, John Reeger, Andy Lupp and Mary Ernster. Even the show's ensemble is a who's who!. 

The Music Man at the Marriott Theatre In Lincolnshire 

And Evanston's Light Opera Works has announced its upcoming season, June through December of 2011. First up will be Lerner and Loewe's "Brigadoon," a classic mid-century musical, followed next August by "The Student Prince," the best-known title of the American Operetta school of  Victor Herbert, Rudolph Friml and the show's composer, Sigmund Romberg. "Rodgers And Hart: A Celebration" will follow next fall, and next December the company will mount Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman's "The Secret Garden." And this December? Well, "Hello, Dolly!" I believe they started rehearsals this week, for a December 26 opening. 

Light Opera Works Announces 2011 Season 

So the election has come and gone, and we look to the next one. In the meantime, sample some musical theater, why don't you? And for those who create it--I think we all need some entertainment to go to! So, enjoy the lovely fall weather, run around town, and next week (if not sooner), I'll see you under the video screens.....--PWT

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From This Author Paul W. Thompson

Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to since 2007, is a Chicago-based singer, actor, musical director, pianist, vocal coach, composer and commentator. His career as (read more...)